Pinko Bag for Ethiopia: Body Painting from the Omo Valley Inspires Sustainable Handbags

pinko bag for ethiopia

Italian fashion label Pinko teams up with Fashion for Development (F4D) to nurture artisan traditions and develop economic independence in Ethiopia.

Pinko’s most recent fashion foray was initiated by Italian ethical fashion ambassadress Marina Spadafora, who collaborated with the label to create a collection of ethnically designed handbags. Spadafora’s inspiration came from the lively body painting traditions of the Omo Valley people in southern Ethiopia, which she discovered through Hans Silverster’s photography of the area. The result of her work is a refreshing take on the tribal trend in the form of tote bags and sweatshirts handmade from 100 percent African cotton.

pinko bag for ethiopia

Showcased at Milan Fashion Week in February and launched for sale at the beginning of May, the Pinko Bag for Ethiopia collection comprises six Ethiopian versions of the signature Pinko Bag, alongside 3 sweatshirts. More than 100 Ethiopian women crafted the eco-friendly cotton bags and apparel at a sustainable factory in Addis Ababa. These women are acting as the cultural caretakers of a national tradition, and sharing the beauty of the body painting traditions amongst the Omo Valley people.

pinko for ethiopia

Several tribes have lived along the Omo River for millennia, and have always practiced the art of body painting. The tribal people use natural pigments for imaginative and instinctive body-adornment that is inspired by the surrounding flora and fauna. The results provide striking visual effects that celebrate the creativity of each individual. The Pinko Bag for Ethiopia collection showcases this impressive resourcefulness to a wider audience in the form of an accessible and responsibly manufactured product.

omo valley body painting

This project and collection was realized through efforts from Fashion for Development (F4D): a global awareness project that has been working to create opportunities for development and economic integrity in third world countries through the medium of fashion. The organization pays particular attention to women as underprivileged members in several of these countries, employing them in tasks that restore the native handcrafting skills of certain regions. The initiative is backed by the United Nations and works with other fashion brands such as Carmina Campus, Tanzina Rab and Alexandra Taylor.

Images: Pinko, Marc Veraart